If you could have paradise however you imagine it, what would it look like?
If you could have that kind of paradise, do whatever you wanted to do there and be in charge of it, would you go there?
If you could have that kind of paradise, but with no one else, would you still go?
“These are questions I ask couples across this country and internationally,” says counselor Dr. Rick Marks. “As fed up as they might be with their marriage or relationship and as tempting as it may be, these questions actually create tension in a person because human beings were not designed to be alone. I rarely come across a person who says they would take that kind of paradise. Yet, I talk with hundreds of couples who are married and living a lonely existence.”
Marks contends that the remedy for human aloneness is intimacy. Everybody craves intimacy, and people will find ways to get it.
“Pain pursues pleasure,” Marks says. “Your brain is wired to avoid pain and pursue pleasure. We are all driven by our needs until the day we die. When you don’t feel loved, you search for ways to get that need met. This is why some people will say to you, ‘Bad love is better than no love at all.’”
Consider this: If you had not eaten in five days and someone gave you a bunch of hamburgers, would it satisfy your hunger? Yes, because the message to your brain is that you are eating something. Eating rat poison instead of hamburgers would also satisfy your need initially. Why? Because your brain would still release the same squirt of dopamine to signal that the need had been met.
“This is what people often do in marriage when things aren’t going well,” Marks says. “If I need attention and I get any kind of attention, I feel loved – even if the attention comes from the wrong person. People will go to rat poison to get their needs met, because it satisfies the need in the moment. Needs - met or unmet - affect how we think, feel and behave.”
How would you respond to the question, "Do you feel loved and valued in your marriage?"
Believe it or not, creating intimacy in your marriage isn’t only about your spouse. Sometimes husbands and wives actually hinder getting their intimacy needs met due to prideful self-reliance, exalting their own needs as more important than those of their spouse and being hypersensitive.
“Your spouse could actually be trying to love you, but due to your pridefulness, you refuse to receive it,” Marks says. “We are often so focused on our own needs that we don’t pay attention to the needs of our spouse. This is a recipe for disaster. I, along with many others, have experienced this miserable existence.”
So, what can you do to increase intimacy in your marriage?
Honest answers to these questions will help you pinpoint the areas where each of you can meet the other’s needs. This healthy balance of give and take can help you produce a more intimate and fulfilling marriage relationship.